November 12, 2018

Seven Requirements of the Old Italian School

The chief characteristics of the old Italian school were clearness, smoothness, volume, intensity, compass, ease, and endurance—seven characteristics shown now as ever by our song-birds; and we, like them, have to obtain effortless, full sustained, and beautiful tone if we wish to sing well. In order to do this we must have our bodies right, and our minds must perceive Where to Will, How to Will, What to Will, and—what is most important—What not to will. A pianist cannot strengthen his third finger by using his fourth; and in like manner a student of song cannot strengthen his voice by falsely placing or falsely directing his Will. As before said, to one student who fails through want of ability, thousands fail through want of clearness or direction on the part of the trainer and imperfect perception on their own. A student must always keep in mind what he wishes to attain; it is not any sound that will do, but only beautiful sound, and beautiful sound is the result of clearness, smoothness, volume, and intensity. 

The old school was celebrated for these conditions, but especially of volume, a property modern singers lack. 

—Charles Lunn, Philosophy of Voice (1900), Ninth Edition, page 17. You can find Lunn's book on the Download page. He was a student of Vinceslao Cattaneo. 

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